Working in concert with the Veterans Administration, nonprofit veteran organizations, and churches, Building Bridges' mission is to build bridges within the veteran population, and between veterans and the communities they risked their lives to protect. Our operating strategy is as simple as our mission: to create veteran communities around a weekly or monthly lunch which fosters collegiality and mutual support.
Building Bridges provides a comfortable, respectful, and non-judgmental space for veterans to gather at free lunches at local veterans clubs and lodges. We partner with a host of veteran service providers, agencies, and independent nonprofits to collaboratively address the significant challenges facing US veterans. The Initiative offers a hot, nutritious weekly meal, camaraderie, and relevant programming on such issues as PTSD and its treatment, the acquisition of service dogs, and available Veterans Administration benefits. Indeed, Veteran Service Officers repeatedly remark that Building Bridges provides supportive venues to make accessible critical veterans services that they find difficult to deliver from their offices.
Building Bridges began in 2012 when Bishop Doug Fisher, then newly consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, identified American veterans as a critically under-served and tragically marginalized population that the church was being called to embrace. Recognizing the rampant problem of veteran homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and the epidemic isolation that veterans face, Bishop Fisher pledged his commitment and significant resources to launch what would become the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative.
The Rev. Christopher Carlisle is the Special Assistant to the Bishop for Special Projects and Director of the veterans ministry initiative, Building Bridges. Having spent twenty-five years in campus ministry, Chris is now dedicated to veterans ministry initiatives, outdoor Christian communities, and the innovation of new expressions of "church" in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.
Chad Wright serves as the Associate Director of Building Bridges and the site director for the luncheon in Greenfield. Chad is currently finishing up a Bachelors in Social Work from Elms College. Chad is a veteran with a passion for community service.
Tony Sivos is the Outreach Specialist for Eastern Massachusetts and is a Social Work intern from Boston University pursuing his Masters of Social Work. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserves with 22 years of service and two deployments overseas. Tony received his Bachelors in Social Work from Bridgewater State University in 2019.